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There is nothing like the writing life. Since retiring from my part-time job I have been able to write on most days. I say most because I’m being truthful here. Some days I just don’t want to write and some days I procrastinate. No thanks here to my fellow author who introduced me to www.thejigsawpuzzles.com. I don’t need to find things to procrastinate over!

But the reason I am excited is that June will see the publication by Books We Love of my second book, Cold Gold. This is a revision of my self-published book, Always A Lady in the Bandit Creek Books series. I liked my characters, Lord Randolph Buxton and his wife Lady Serena. They are something like an Edwardian Nick and Nora Charles. For those of you not familiar with Nick and Nora, they were characters created by Dashiell Hammett, maybe better known for penning The Maltese Falcon. They, and their fox terrier Asta, appeared in the 1934 novel, The Thin Man. Many people thought Nick was The Thin Man but no, The Thin Man was the character Nick was tracking. Nick was a crusty cop and Nora an heiress. Later, in the early 80s, there was the television series Hart to Hart, starring Robert Wagner as Jonathan Hart and Stefanie Powers as his wife Jennifer.

I liked the idea of a husband and wife team. I liked the idea of portraying a loving couple working together.  A reviewer of Always A Lady wrote they felt that the story was unfinished, and when I went back and looked at it I thought, you’re right. I didn’t want to pick up where I left off, so rather than carry on I revised it and it will be published by Books We Love in June as Book #1 in The Buxton Chronicles as Cold Gold. Book #2 will be titled On Borrowed Time, and is planned for early 2014, and Book #3, Shell Shocked, is planned for July 2014. 

This playing with my characters will be repeated with my Regency characters. Lucius, Earl of Avondale in my first Regency title, His Dark Enchantress, has a sister Juliana. Her story will be told in His Ocean Vixen. Two more characters from His Dark Enchantress, Lord Skeffington and Lady Olivia Darnley, will appear in my third Regency, His Unexpected Muse (working title).

So now I’ve shared with you why I am excited, I now have to get back to that most mundane of jobs – laundry. No, this is not procrastination, it is necessity!

 

It’s actually been more of a whirlwind week. In no time at all my Regency romance, His Dark Enchantress, was accepted by e-publisher Books We Love and is now available on Amazon.  It’s my first Regency novel and was a labour of love, not just in the writing of it or the interaction of my characters, but because of my husband, Neil John Chatham (1937-2001) who always believed in my writing and that I would one day write a historical novel.

Nitch (a nickname given to him by his brothers) made it easy for me to write. While I waffled on about wanting to write, his comment was – then why don’t you? Well, I had to do this that or the other thing. All writers understand procrastination. Not a satisfactory answer. My reasoning for not writing was quickly cast aside when Nitch took over doing all those mundane things that need to be done, but take time. He shopped, cooked, cleaned and did his own laundry all so that I had the time to write.

He bought me a typewriter (yes, it really was that long ago) on which I bashed out my first published article, a short piece entitled What Springtime Means To Me. This was followed by another article about the dogs I  owned when I lived in England. I wrote short stories, articles for a writers’ group newsletter of which I later became editor, and because of Nitch’s insistence entered a short story competition. By now he had bought me my first computer, a Dell pc that was ultimately named ‘Dinosaur’ by my computer guy at the time and which eventually said, ‘I can’t do this any more’ and died.  Anyone who has suffered a computer crash will understand the pain, mine that is, not the computer’s.

Out of that competition grew a contemporary romance, one that I really didn’t have a great deal of confidence in. It languishes still, not entirely discarded and may, in another revision, yet see the light of day.

Nitch’s confidence in my talent was unwavering. His only request for all this timely (pun intended) assistance was that when I made it big I rewarded him with a red Ferrari and an 18-year-old leggy blonde chauffeur. The car I could do, the leggy blonde chauffeur I vetoed. After all, can you imagine what the insurance would cost? All joking aside, I used my time to learn my craft. Write, write and write more is many an author’s mantra, but in the writing there is also learning. Very few authors come ready made. Oh, yes – the story may well be there but still needs good characterization, subleties of plot and sub-plot and all the hooks, twists and turns wrapped up in satisfactory conclusions readers expect.

The idea for His Dark Enchantress came out of just one scene which I sent to my critique partner, A.M. Westerling, who also writes historical romance.  It went from there. Nitch always thought I would write a ‘hysterical’ novel. Yes, my DH loved words and word play and behind the fun was always the belief that I would make it. Because of that I began to think of myself as an author, not ‘want to be an author when I grow up’ or ‘one day I will write a novel’. No, I am an honest to goodness author.  Regency romance is my first love, but that contemporary may yet see the life of day and in between times there are still articles and short stories.

My second Regency, His Ocean Vixen, is my current work in progess, slow progress  because I am finishing a novella as well. The writing continues. So, wherever my DH is, thank you for believing in me.

Thanks to my critique partner and fellow author A.M. Westerling -http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5895440.A_M_Westerling/blog  – for the opportunity to be part of this blog hop. I’m trying very hard to keep up with social media. It’s all a learning curve. I’m on Facebook, Twitter and have a badly neglected blog site so this has come along at just the right time for me to write this week’s post.

What is the working title of your book?

Hmm. Pick one. I’ve been lucky enough to not run short of ideas, but the genre that is nearest and dearest to my heart is Regency romance, so that would be His Ocean Vixen which will be my second Regency novel.

Where did the idea come from?

From my first Regency romance, His Dark Enchantress. When I first started writing it my hero’s sister was such an intrusion that I promised her a book of her own so now I’m keeping that promise.

What genre does your novel fall under?

Definitely Regency. I love that period of history. I remember when I picked up my first Georgette Heyer novel Frederica. I still have that book and read it at least a couple of times each year and find it as fresh and funny as the first time I read it. Other authors in the genre that I really enjoy are Mary Balogh, Jo Beverley and Lecia Cornwall.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters if it became a movie?

That is a really hard question. I know it dates me terribly but all the actors that immediately came to mind are mostly like me now – seniors – and no longer acting. I think Chris Hemsworth for my hero would be able to swash a buckle or two, and Rachel Weitz has played some pretty feisty roles so she would definitely fill the bill for my heroine.

What is the one-sentence blurb for the book?

Saved from a shipwreck, a young woman gradually falls in love with her rescuer only to find he may be a slave trader, something that she will not condone but could she be wrong?

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I will be looking for representation, but if not then I would definitely self-publish.

How long did it take to get to the final draft of the MS?

It is still a work in progress and I’m planning to have it finished by the end of June 2013.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I think the romance in Mary Balogh’s books and the action in Lecia Cornwall’s. Both authors have given me a great deal of food for thought.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

The inspiration for this title came from my first Regency, which started with an idea for a scene which I just wrote out and sent to my critique partner to see if it had any merit. She thought it did and that was how His Dark Enchantress came to be. As I had only written non-fiction and short stories prior to that, I was really surprised to find that my characters took on a life of their own. Arguing with figments of your imagination is a really hard thing to do, but each character that bullied me into submission got a file of their own. Now I have to make the time to write their stories.

What else about your book might pique a reader’s interest?

If readers are anything like me, they identify with strong, take charge heroines and mine is definitely that.

I hope you enjoy this blog and for the next stop along the blog hop way, check out Brenda’s Banter and Balm at www.brendasinclairauthor.com.

 

 

 

 

 

So the world didn’t end on December 21st, 2012 and here we are in January, 2013. All my good intentions of blogging on Wednesday evenings obviously went by the wayside. Last year had lots of changes. Losing my Mum, and then later having to make the decision to let my little dog, Jay, go. Both events were hard rows to hoe. However, decisions have to be made and life goes on. Not the same, that’s for sure, but different. The old adage when one door closes another opens was never more true.

Not wanting to become a couch potato without Jay to get me out of the house, I went to Spice Wellness and tried out their vibration machines. Seemed like a good idea at the time and it still is. I go three times a week, more if I want to. It’s a quick stop for me – and that’s it in a nutshell. I would begrudge the time going to a gym and working out, getting sweaty, necessitating showers and changing. In between times I use my rebounder and try to go for a walk a couple of times a week.

And what of my eating plan? Well, I’d love to say I was really good at it. However, that would be far from the truth and Christmas is no time to be saying ‘no thank you’ to all those friends who gave edible gifts. Chocolate from one, cookies from another, home-made fruit cake from someone who knows me well. The jams and sauces another friend gave me will be an ongoing treat.

But January 1st is like a fresh page in a journal. It’s open to possibilities. What will today bring? I’ve started it off with an omelette and a small side of chopped asparagus, red pepper and onion. A sprinkle of crushed chilies, black pepper and sea salt, and voila! breakfast. Lunch will be an avacado, kiwi fruit and spinach smoothie. Supper – well, I haven’t thought that far ahead so watch this page!

We all need it. We all want it. We all have to have it. What is it? Food.

And I have had a love hate relationship with it for most of my life. Photographs show that I was a child of average build and size, but all that changed when I was eight years old and had a three month long bout with pneumonia with much of that time being spent in bed.

I apparently did not have much of an appetite and the doctor advised my mother to not worry about what I ate as long as I drank plenty of milk which, in the early 1950s, was whole milk. Consequently, by the time I got out of bed, I was almost as round as I was high and so began my life long battle with weight.

It didn’t seem to matter what I ate, there was the potential for another inch on my hips. Through my teens I managed to keep a regular weight with numerous activities – horse riding, swimming, badminton, archery and good old rock ‘n roll. As a Mom with a young family, I burnt a lot of energy keeping up with my three kids. Then I experienced a complete metabolic flip-flop when, after a divorce, my weight plummeted. Family and friends encouraged me to eat – and I did. Anything, at anytime,  anywhere. It made no difference. At my lowest weight I was 87lbs and it took me two years to regain a somewhere-near- right for my then age, height and build weight of about 120lbs. Once I reached that weight, I maintained it for several years but it was a constant balancing act.

I lost weight again, naturally enough I suppose, when I immigrated to Canada. My husband was a true blue, dyed in the wool steak and potatoes loving Canadian but he was also a man who loved to cook. How could I refuse to eat a meal so lovingly and carefully prepared for me? From chicken wings (I’d give you the family marinade and sauce recipes but my DH would probably come back to haunt me if I did) to planked salmon, chili and sea food dishes, he tried it all. And then there were the variety of restaurants we enjoyed.

And life was changing. We became so busy that what we were doing was more important than what we were eating so, you guessed right, I started putting weight on again. Breakfast was about the only meal we ate at home. Dash here, grab pizza on the way. Dash there, oh we’ll just pick up coffee and donuts at Timmy’s.  Then there were the days when we didn’t make time to eat until the evening by which time we could have consumed half a cow because we were so hungry.

Everything changes, and life changed again when my husband passed away. Being a consummate shopper, he did the shopping for what groceries we did have at home. Now, faced with not much more than an echo in my fridge, I had to start taking care of myself again and I reverted to what the cashier in my local Safeway laughingly referred to as ‘English shopping’. I bought fresh produce on a day to day basis which is almost anathema to the average Canadian shopper.  I started eating more meals at home, boring and time consuming though preparing food for one person is. I’ve never been fond of frozen meals, and can easily live without a microwave, so my meals at home are now mostly salads. When I do eat out I usually have a bit of a splurge and have fries with a steak or burger and always dessert!

Now being more mature than I’ve ever been, in years anyway, it really does matter what I eat. Over the years I’ve weathered the various theories that have been touted around. You know- the ones like apples-are-bad-for-teeth-enamel versus eat-an-apple-before-each-meal,  coffee-is-bad-for-you then one-cup-in-the-morning-is-fine. It all boils down to eating sensibly. A little of everything does you good as my grandmother used to say, with the emphasis on ‘little’.

And where, these days, do you find ‘little’ of anything? Supersize this or that, MSG-laden pre-packaged food products and the question about a bag of chips, ‘Can you eat just one?’ I have discovered for myself the truth nutrition gurus have been telling us for a long time – diets don’t work. Diet programs are great for initially losing weight, but how many people actually learn the lesson of smaller portions of the right foods aligned with exercise? Many don’t so, when they stop the program, the weight piles back on.

So where am I on a scale of 1-10? I must be honest. I’m pretty low on the totem pole actually. I know I could and should pay more attention to my diet. I know I could and should take more exercise than my one mile walk most days with my dog. I know some of my problem is a steroid based post cancer medication, but I also know that it’s up to me and only me to do something about it. So now I’m going to slice an apple, sprinkle it with cinnamon, cut a small piece of cheese, make a cup of green tea and dream of bacon and eggs, hash browns and Texas toast.

 

 

I’m almost ashamed to look at the date of my first blog! How has all that time gotten away on me? I’d like to say I’ve been busy writing and I have, some of the time. But for the rest of it? I have to admit to succumbing to the inner critic and negativity.

Yep, that little voice that wants to know who the heck you think you are. What could you possibly write that would make a difference or matter to somebody else? Who would want to read anything you write? So today I decided to shut that voice up once and for all which is why I am now back in the saddle so to speak.

The biggest event of the last few months was losing my mother. Age 92, suffering with advanced Alzheimer’s, bed ridden for the last eight months of her life, it was a blessed relief for her. My father passed away in January, 2001 and with my mother’s passing  there was suddenly a huge, gaping hole in my life when I realized that I was now an adult orphan.  I know grief is personal and different for everyone but the emotions that surfaced surprised me.

A very wise friend said  that when the last parent dies, it means our generation is next – so in part we mourn and grieve our own death and that makes perfect sense to me. My grandmother (my mother’s mother) said there is only one certainty in life and that is that we all will die, we just don’t know where or when. Not particularly cheerful, but true.

So for now I intend to not let that inner critic hamper my blogging efforts and will see you all next week as I have decided that Wednesdays will be my blogging night!

 

 

 

Why I Write

Writing has been a part of my life since I was old enough to hold a pencil. Actually, it was a red crayon and I scrawled loops and swirls across the bathroom wall. Do I remember this? No, but I was told about it. Frequently, as if I really knew what I was doing at the time and needed to know not to do it again.

Reading and writing was of paramount importance in my family and I could read long before I started school. There, A is for Apple quickly became boring and I was not the best behaved girl in the class. I read voraciously and still have many of the books given to me by my parents for birthday and Christmas presents.

The books I read at seven and eight years old were classics. Treasure Island, Westward Ho!, Lorna Doone and many more. The more I read, the more I wanted to write. As an early teen, and much to my parents amusement, I penned a series of stories about Virginia, girl of the golden west.  All I remember now is that Virginia excelled at everything from horse riding to mountain climbing.

It was horse riding and working with horses that diverted me for a number of years. After that it was home and family, although I did tell my children stories and some of them were written down. Now, more mature than I’ve ever been (in years anyway) I started writing again. Seriously. And I love it.

My first completed novel was a contemporary romantic suspense. But I was a novice and couldn’t get the balance right between romance and suspense. I took the advice of publishing industry experts, and ruined the book. It was, I think, a bit like an artist putting one final touch to his painting and ruining it. That book still languishes in a drawer and may yet see the light of day.

I took classes and workshops, read craft books, gained a critique partner and finally indulged my first love – Regency romance. When I wrote The End, I felt great but the next day I was all but twiddling my thumbs. What to do with myself now? If I could complete one novel, then I should get on with the next. And in between times came the Bandit Creek Books project and that’s a whole other story for my next post.

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